Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik today released the following statement after hearing directly from her constituents that are still struggling to find baby formula over one year since Stefanik called on the Biden Administration to address the baby formula shortage. She has long been an advocate for increasing baby formula supply and flexibility as solutions to this crisis and her office is in contact with the Biden Administration to get baby formula back on shelves in New York’s 21st District.
“Over one year has passed since I sounded the alarm calling on the Biden Administration to address the baby formula shortage, but due to Joe Biden’s failure to take action, families throughout Upstate New York and the North Country are still struggling to find baby formula,” Stefanik said. “I have heard directly from my constituents who are forced to struggle to feed their babies and have to travel over 100 miles roundtrip to find baby formula. My office has contacted the Biden Administration to immediately address this issue, and I am continuing my push to provide flexibility for WIC suppliers to increase baby formula supply. I will continue to bring the concerns of families in New York’s 21st District to the highest levels, so families in my district will not have to worry about how they will feed their babies.”
“St. Lawrence County has dealt with the ongoing baby formula shortage for nearly two years. We are well past the “due to Covid” excuse and this is unacceptable. The dysfunction plaguing our supply chain system was caused at the federal level, and that’s where it needs to be dealt with. So I proudly support the work of Congresswoman Elise Stefanik in her work to serve the moms, dads, and children of St. Lawrence County,” said Ben Hull, St. Lawrence County Legislator, District 8.
“The baby formula shortage is still affecting citizens all over the North Country. In fact, I am frequently hearing from constituents that baby formula is sparse all over. Some stores do not take WIC, which is creating additional stress for those less apt to be able to travel or pay extra in order to get the formula they need. This is all very concerning as the Biden administration has not adequately addressed this continuing shortage,” said Rita Curran, St. Lawrence County Legislator, District 15.
“This baby formula shortage has been going on for two years it’s about time we come up with a permanent solution instead of a quick fix. Our governor can give $200 million to ex-cons to start cannabis dispensaries but she can’t give a few million dollars on a low interest loan to a local businessman to start a baby formula factory that would cure a problem and put a lot of local people to work it’s about time we get a permanent solution to this problem. It’s about time to start investing in our youth and future,” said Glenn Webster, St. Lawrence County Legislator, District 11.
“Almost daily, my staff and I find ourselves frustrated with this topic and at a loss on how we are to help our families. We are a program put in place to help provide healthy nutrition to our families including our most vulnerable population, infants. But how beneficial can the formula benefits be if our families aren't able to find their baby's formula is stores. Hours are spent navigating participant concerns, calling around to stores and emailing our Vendor department in hopes that we can locate even just a can of formula to get them through a bit longer, hoping that this distribution issue resolves. The addition of the other temporary formula brands/container sizes seemed to help for a while but then issues started picking back up again. Now even the additional formulas that can be purchased with WIC are hard to locate in stores,“ said Ariel J. Perry, WIC Coordinator of St. Lawrence & Franklin Counties.
"While WIC promotes breastfeeding as optimal, not every mother can, due to many different circumstances. The formula shortage in our area still continues to be a problem. There is not a day that goes by that we are not getting several calls from families who have driven all over the North Country looking for infant formula. A year later, our staff still spends countless time calling stores to see where there may be a particular formula. The frustration and stress level are understandable as parents are often met with bare shelves or limits on what they can buy. When families on WIC cannot use their benefits for formula, they often have to make the choice of spending what money they have to purchase what they can find and often go without other basic needs for their family,” said Krista Berger, Essex County WIC Coordinator.
“It’s an hour and ten minutes one way just to find baby formula. We already had to switch the kind of formula we used to something that was more readily available, and now this kind is sparse. Every time we call around to find out if there is any in stock, we always get the same response or are lucky if they have one available. I’m just hoping the problem gets resolved soon,” said Hunter Forsythe from Lisbon, New York.
In February 2022, Stefanik sent a letter calling on the FDA to address safety and supply concerns regarding baby formula following a recall of powdered formulas after reports of related illness in infants. In May, Stefanik followed up and called on the FDA to provide a clear timeline for when baby formula inventory is expected to be sufficiently restocked as well as a long-term plan to minimize supply chain disruptions for baby formula. Stefanik did not receive a response from the FDA to her initial letter until May 11, months after she sounded the alarm and well after Americans were suffering from this baby formula crisis.
Stefanik led the Babies Need Formula Now Act to increase the baby formula supply for parents as soon as possible. She also introduced a bipartisan amendment to address limited options for WIC mothers by expanding baby formula contracting from one to two suppliers in the WIC program during a committee markup of House Democrats’ child nutrition bill, but Democrats struck it down.